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. it forces members of congress and president obama to spend the last few days of 2012 on the job. we want to bring in cnn chief white house correspondent, jessica yelen, we all know they would rather celebrate new year's eve elsewhere. how did they get here? >> reporter: it is such a good question, you know, candy, this grid lock in washington creates the eye-rolling. but the fundamental question goes to the essential differences between the two parties about the role of government, should it be bigger or smaller? about whether we want lower taxes or more of a social safety net. so while we have seen the principles, the president, speaker boehner, and now senator mcconnell and reid trying to get involved in stages in the last few weeks, it has always broken down because they fundamentally disagree about the big ideas over the core of this debate. they're fighting between the two parties. and this could get resolved in a matter of days or weeks. but the big difference, the issues could really take months to work out. >> can it be resolved in the matter of few enough days that they meet tha
. and a mad scramble is on here in washington to avoid the drastic tax hikes and spending cuts that many fear will plunge the economy back into recession. president obama flies back from hawaii tonight to be ready if the senate comes back with a plan when it returns to work tomorrow. and house leaders are huddling with members on stand-by to return. senior congressional correspondent dana bash is following all of it for us. what are you hearing? >> there was a conference call of course members of the house leadership even, they're back in their districts, but there was a conference call today among those house republican leaders trying to figure out if and when the house should come back into session. two republican sources tell me they did not make a decision on this call. it's still up in the air. and a big reason for that is if anything can get done in the next six days, the ball is in the senate's court. the capitol is a ghost town. neither chamber in session. an eerie calm since the fiscal cliff only congress has the power to avert is less than one week away. from their home, senate demo
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